If you've never heard of this Presbyterian missionary, you'll be thankful you saw this post!


John Leighton Wilson was a giant of 19th-century Presbyterian missions, but unfortunately, he is little-known today. Erskine Clark has recently told his story in By the Rivers of Watersbut his story was first told by another Presbyterian missionary, Hampden Coit Dubose. William Childs Robinson, in his book Columbia Theological Seminary and the Southern Presbyterian Church, tells this wonderful story: "At his vacation Wilson returned home from this memorable decision [to go to African as a missionary] made in prayer with John Bailey Adger at Columbia Theological Seminary. His father still refused to give his consent. "'Father,' said Leighton, 'would you be willing to go into the room and pray with me?' So they began, 'Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' The father could not go beyond that petition. Brought face to face with the world-embracing affections and purposes of God, he could not hold to any little contrary ambition of his own. Slipping his arm around his son's shoulder, he told him he could go." May the Lord use those who have gone before us in the faith to spur us on the bring the gospel to the nations!


"Global missions is the powerhouse of local missions" - 1st General Assembly of the PCUS (1861)

In 1861, the Committee on Foreign Missions at the 1st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (the Southern Assembly, at that time known as the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America), gave their report to the delegates present. The Committee's members included John Leighton Wilson (a former missionary to Gabon, Africa, and from 1861 till 1884 the Executive Secretary of the PCUS Committee on Foreign Missions) and James Beverlin Ramsey (a former missionary to the Indian tribes in America and author of a commentary on the first 11 chapters of Revelation). As a part of their report, the Committee composed one of the most stirring statements on the power and necessity of global missions ever written:

"[T]he General Assembly desires distinctly and deliberately to inscribe on our church’s banner, as she now first unfurls it to the world, in immediate connection with the headship of our Lord, his last command: ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;’ regarding this as the great end of her organization, and obedience to it as the indispensable condition of her Lord’s promised presence, and as one great comprehensive object, a proper conception of whose vast magnitude and grandeur is the only thing which, in connection with the love of Christ, can ever sufficiently arouse her energies and develop her resources so as to cause her to carry on, with the vigor and efficiency which true fealty to her Lord demands, those other agencies necessary to her internal growth and home prosperity. The claims of this cause ought therefore to be kept constantly before the minds of the people and pressed upon their consciences. The ministers and ruling elders and deacons and Sabbath-school teachers, and especially the parents, ought, and are enjoined by the Assembly, to give particular attention to all those for whose religious teaching they are responsible, in training them to feel a deep interest in this work, to form habits of systematic benevolence, and to feel and respond to the claims of Jesus upon them for personal service in the field." (Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederates States of America (1861), page 17 - one day, Lord willing, we'll have these Minutes uploaded to this site!)